The Dangers of Chlamydia and Pregnancy
Believe it or not Chlamydia and pregnancy have something in common and that is the fact that they are both so common. Millions of women—more than three million to be exact—contract Chlamydia each year in the US. That’s half of the amount of women who get pregnant in the US each year! Scary, isn’t it?
What’s Chlamydia Anyway?
Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that can be passed on via vaginal fluids and semen during sexual activity of any kind. Left untreated, Chlamydia can cause infertility and more. The most interesting and upsetting fact about the disease is that more than seventy-five percent of women infected have no symptoms at all. As for men, half of those infected are also asymptomatic. This means that people are passing it onto each other without even knowing it much of the time. Sadly, women also pass it on to their newborns for the same reason.
Effects on Your Baby
Chlamydia and pregnancy can prove a dangerous combination because it can be passed on to your baby during birth. On the baby’s way through the birth canal its eyes are very susceptible to infection with blindness as a possibility. The mouth, nose, lungs and genitals are also at high risk of 'catching' the infection on its way out of the birth canal. The development of pneumonia in the first 3 weeks is also risk for newborns that have been exposed to the infection. Having Chlamydia while pregnant can also cause premature delivery which can have complications for both you and your baby.
Better Safe Than Sorry
Whether you’ve got symptoms or not, getting tested for Chlamydia while pregnant is something that you need to do for you and your baby. Since the infection is often without symptoms, it’s possible to have contracted it even long before you were pregnant.
The test to find out if you have Chlamydia is simple. A sample is taken using a swab or brush, similar to a pap smear or it can be done using a urine sample. The samples are sent to the lab and then the results are forwarded to your doctor. If you are infected, it will be treated using a course of antibiotics. If your test comes back showing no signs of the disease your doctor will likely request a second test three weeks later if you are considered to be ‘high risk’ due to your sexual history or if you appear to be exhibiting symptoms.
Some women find the idea of being tested for an STD—especially while pregnant—to be embarrassing. Those who have been in a monogamous relationship may even find the idea ridiculous or offensive, but this is where you need to start putting your unborn baby first and get tested for their sake. Your partner may have been carrying the infection long before you two ever got together and the same goes for you. Anyone who has sex is at risk of catching Chlamydia. There’s no shame in opting to be safe than sorry.